Electronic voting is not a new concept, it’s been used to conduct elections over the years. The only thing that has experienced a level of evolution is the sophistication of how it can be conducted and its associated risks.
From the time punch cards were used to more modern times where a direct recording electronic (DRE) voting system is used, electronic voting is simply any voting system that is aided by the internet or any electrical device.
Electronic voting can find applications in many forms, it can involve the simple use of electronic voting machines or it can be a full-blown computer-mediated voting system where voting can be done from any location.
Depending on the level of sophistication, electronic voting handles only the vote casting, ensuring no malpractice can occur.
A more sophisticated approach will handle the voting process, the transmission, the consolidation, and the subsequent release of election results.
There are two main forms of electronic voting:
The e-voting happens at a stated location though still aided through electronic means.
The Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machine and Optical scanning machine can be used for e-voting.
The DRE is a machine that consists of a touch screen connected to a computer, the voters simply select their choices and cast their votes. The DRE machine then records the vote and stores it.
For the optical scanning machine, the voter fills and inserts their ballot paper into the scanning device.
It cross-checks and immediately rejects inappropriately filled ballots and records the ones filled out accurately.
Although there are various optical scanning systems, all use different means to achieve the same end.
I-voting is a remote type of electronic voting, where voters can vote from any location through an internet-enabled device. This could be from either a private or public device.
For these two types of electronic voting, there have been major concerns about the authenticity of voting results.
As the reason for voting was to collectively make a decision. If tampered with that decision is flawed and hence cannot be accepted by the general public.
The DRE is plagued by the concern of software corruption, especially during the voting process.
Software attacks have been recorded to occur in such cases, where the storage device where the votes are stored gets corrupted.
For I-voting, the major concern has been a denial-of-service attack. Where internet services are disrupted and users are cut off from accessing the internet, either way, this prevents them from casting their votes.
Cryptography verification has been used to determine the integrity of DRE machine software, it helps to a large extent to solve the problem.
This cryptography verification has three stages, individual verifiability, universal verifiability, and universal verifiability.
A lot of other solutions have been proffered to all the above-mentioned concerns however, none has been able to completely eliminate doubts.
Despite these concerns, one cannot take away the advantages of electronic voting, from increased speed of voting collation to improved voting process, and increased accessibility which would lead to more citizens’ participation.
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